When Was the Last Time You Did It?

business marketing

Why I Hired a Photographer for My Own Branding Images

Well, the time had come.  After losing over 120 pounds I knew that I needed to schedule a photosession for myself in pretty short order.  Not because I hated the images that I had on my social media but because I felt like they no longer represented who I was in my business.

 Losing a lot of weight has reaches far beyond the scale.  It has impacted how I carry myself, how I show up in my business, how I think about the world around me, and how people in that world treat me.  I wish it wasn't so but how we look and are perceived in the world is dramatically impacted by how we look.  I could do a masterclass on this alone but I will save that for another time.

We tell our clients how to prep for sessions with us every day.  It becomes something that is no big deal.  We even have the nerve to get upset if they don't follow our instructions perfectly.  (Come on, I know you have seen those posts on social)  But when was the last time you put yourself in front of a camera with a stranger hoping, just hoping that they get images you can use?

I'm going to guess that for some of you the answer to that question is never. 

After all, why should we pay someone to do something that we can do for ourselves by either setting up the self timer OR setting up things so that a partner or spouse can take images of you? To most of us it doesn't make sense to spend money on such a thing.  But hear me out.  How can you possibly empathize with your clients and provide them with a great experience if all you are doing is rehashing what you hear from some "expert" on social media who appears successful OR by following a "strategy" you paid for from someone who isn't in your market, doesn't have your clients, and isn't in your phase of business?

The math doesn't math as my teenager would say.

The only way you can truly put yourself in your clients shoes is to put yourself in your clients shoes.  Hire a photographer, go through their process, pay their rates for the services they provide, AND experience things from the other side of the lens.  

This is some of the best market research you can do for your business.  (And check with your accountant, it is probably tax deductible as a business expense as well.)  Hiring a pro and going through their process is not about the final images.  I mean, yes if you are paying for a session, you want great images you can use at the end of it all, BUT, that isn't why you should do this exercise.  You should go through their process to analyze, observe, and study how another person in your market runs their business.  

What to look for when hiring a photographer

1.  What does their onboarding process look like? Is everything online, do you have a phone call, do you get reminders, checklists, etc. .  .?  

2.  How do they prep you for the session?

3.  How do they run the session?

4.  How do they deliver the images?  IPS, online gallery, a hybrid of the two?

5.  What is their payment structure?

6. How long does their entire process take?

7.  What is their tone in their communication?

8.  How do they handle objections or questions?

9.  How do they make you feel as a client?

All of those, plus some more I am sure you think of, are really important to you as a client and to the people who are going to hire you.  

What You Can Learn About Your Business Hiring a Photographer

This is where this really pays off.  As you go through their process take note of what you liked and what you didn't.  What worked for you as a client, and what rubbed you the wrong way.  Those feelings and emotions are what will drive your business forward.  Not pricing, marketing pieces, or how many social media posts you schedule a year.  Lean into the emotions of the experience.  Emotions are what will get you reviews you want.  What you did or didn't like are the same things your client will or won't like except, they don't know better when something doesn't quite feel right.  You will.  Take that information to make your business better.

Is this Ethical?

Sure it is.  As long as you aren't there to copy what they do and steal their secrets.  You are observing what they do and how they do it.  That is perfectly fine.  

I tell all the photographers I hire, exactly what I do.  However, most of them know who I am ahead of time so it isn't really a secret.  But if they don't recognize you, be sure and tell them that you are there to have a great session, observe things, and you can't wait to work together.  Upon disclosing that, they might cancel the session.  Be OK with that.  Really. If they don't want to work with you, there is someone else you can hire.  By disclosing what you do, you are staying above board so you do not need to worry about things being weird.

You might even leave the session with a new bestie that you can call friend in an industry that is tragically lonely at times.

What I learned Hiring a Pro:

Going through this process is going to make me a better choice of photographer for my clients.  After all, it is more challenging to be empathic and understanding to the process if you have never gone through it.  Many photographers don't see why they need to hire someone when they have all the equipment and knowledge to do their own images.  But setting up your equipment and getting a friend or your spouse to take a few images is NOT the same as hiring someone else .  It just isn't. 

Keeping in touch with what my clients go through when they hire me is a key element as to why I am great at what I do.  It isn't just about you coming to the studio, it is about the prep, the aftermath, the styling, all of it.  My process allows for us to address all the issues that come up at every step.

 It was stressful prepping for my own session.  It took a lot of my mental energy to get ready.  Alleviating as much of that for my clients is something that I feel is important.  Not because I want to be nice, although that is part of it, but because the freer my clients can feel when they step in front of my camera, the better the images will be.  They will feel more comfortable knowing that we took care of all the steps so they can be their best selves.  That reflects in the images which is what it is all about. 

Learning this first hand is one of the best things that you can do for your business and your clients.  Try it out and let me know how it goes!!


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